The Finance Blogger

Identity Theft

Identity TheftWhat is  identity theft ? This is the 2nd blog in our series of posts about real estate and identity theft. In the previous post we discussed real estate title fraud.  In this post we are focusing on Identity theft. Both are tightly linked since a crook must impersonate someone in order to commit title fraud, in other words take over someone’s identity.   We hope this series of posts will help people be more vigilant about their personal information. Avoiding this problem will save you a great deal of frustration and money.

What is Identity Theft ?

Real estate title fraud often involves identity theft. According to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, identity theft is the unauthorized collection and use of your personal information.

Personal information falling  into the wrong hands allows your personal information to be used to:

  • Open personal credit card and bank accounts in your name, incurring huge amounts of debt which you may have to repay;
  • Redirect your mail to another location so you do not see the bills and have no idea that anything is wrong;
  • Establish cellular phone service in your name with the bill going to another location and of course not being paid;
  • Rent vehicles in your name, equipment in your name, or accommodation and have a party!;
  • Secure employment , even file for back taxes, tax credits; or
  • if that were not enough also ruin your credit history, which will take years to correct and recover.

Safe Guard Your Personal Information

The following types of personal information should be safeguarded at all times. Hence never provide any of this information to any one you do not know and especially over the Internet. In fact you should shred all paper with any of this information on it before you dispose of it:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Credit card number and expiry date
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN), do not carry it with you in your wallet
  • Bank account number; never carry your bank numbers and pin numbers together
  • Health card number, particularly in Canada.
  • Drivers license number
  • Other personal identification numbers
  • Avoid carrying pin numbers and bank cards together

Warning signs to Watch For

Several indicators serve as warning signs for potentially fraudulent activity.  The basic rule is that if it sounds wrong or too good to be true, then it is probably someone trying to rip you off. Some items to keep an eye out for:

  • Online – shady online auctions or misrepresented or undelivered goods
  • Phishing – emails pretending to represent a credible source ask consumers for their personal information (e.g. credit card number)
  • Internet access services – misrepresentation of the cost of Internet access and other services, which are often not provided
  • Investments – They look to good to be true,  false promises of gains on investments
  • Lotteries – You never pay up front for any lottery, but some people still fall for asking winners to pay before claiming their non-existent prize
  • Advance fee loans – Just deal with the bank , because they do not ask for a fee request in exchange of promised personal loans
  • Nigerian letter scam – You get these all of the time, yet there are many forms of this scam, deceptive promises of large sums of money, if consumers agreed to pay the transfer fee

With a little work and paying attention to details most people can avoid identity theft and real estate fraud. Always be vigilant and never let your guard down.

Protect your Identity

In our next post we will cover some of the things you can do to protect yourself from identity theft and title insurance fraud. There is a huge difference between being paranoid, vs. just keeping an eye on your personal details and following a few simple rules outlined in this series of blogs. Some people believe that it will never happen to them, or who would want their identity. All they need is a few bits of information and someone intent on committing fraud can quickly build up a persona based on your name. Once they have done that, there is no end to the amount of financial damage they can to your financial affairs.

If you have suggestions or would like to leave a comment please do so. We will add them to our blog if they make sense and are not considered spam. Personal stories about fraud and what you learned throughout the process are welcome so that we can help others avoid this increasing situation.

Stay tuned for the next post, were we will talk about how to protect yourself from identity theft and real estate fraud!

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One Response to “Identity Theft”

  1. I have not been hit by identity theft yet and hope I do not. This is a really good article to help prepare and avoid being a victim of identity theft

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